6 cops injured in protest for Ethiopian child killed in hit-and-run

Protestors say woman who killed an Ethiopian child in a hit-and-run accident is being charged too lightly because the victim was black.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Six police officers were injured, one seriously, after a protest on Ayalon Highway devolved into a violent riot Wednesday night.

The demonstration, the latest in a string of protests organized by activists who have accused authorities of discrimination in the handling of criminal investigation into the hit-and-run accident that left an Ethiopian boy dead, led to the closure of the Tel Aviv highway for over an hour.

According to the police, the “Justice for Rafael” protest drew hundreds of demonstrators, with some participants sparking fires and throwing rocks, glass bottles and Molotov cocktails at officers. One officer was hit in the head with a sharp object and was rushed to Ichilov Hospital for surgery.

The authorities managed to clear the highway after an hour, using stun grenades and police on horseback.

“We are witnessing a serious injury to a police officer for the second week in a row – something that should turn on a red light in all of us regarding the ease with which police officers who are doing their job faithfully are attacked with such severe violence,” said Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai.

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This “crossing of the boundaries of protest” would not go unpunished, Shabtai vowed. While the police noted that four protestors were arrested at the scene, other arrests would follow, he said, as they would “come to terms with the lawbreakers.”

Last Wednesday, a policeman was stabbed and moderately wounded during a similar protest. Three other officers were hurt at the same time, and ten demonstrators were arrested for throwing objects at the police and “disrupting public order.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the stabbing an unacceptable “crossing of a red line.”

Four-year-old Rafael Adana had been walking with his grandfather in Netanya when he was hit by 70-year-old Carol Fessler, who did not stop after the accident. She told police later that she did not feel the bump of the collision and that is why she left the scene. The authorities determined that the accident was unavoidable because Adana had appeared in the street only a second before Fessler arrived, driving at the speed limit, and vegetation obscured her line of sight.

The Ethiopian community is up in arms because of the perceived racism involved in the lighter charge that is being recommended – neglect, instead of homicide or manslaughter.

“The problem is not individual people, the problem is institutionalized racism” that has lasted over 40 years, MK Tsega Melaku (Likud) said at the protest, which had started peacefully, as per the request of Adana’s mother.

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Her community has not been received the way it should have, considering that “We didn’t come here because we felt like it, we didn’t come because we were hungry. We came because we wanted Jerusalem,” Melaku stressed.

Rafael’s father also spoke, saying that he has not trusted anyone in the authorities since his son died a few days after the accident, when the hospital issued a statement about his death to the press without telling him, when “Rafael was [right] next to me.” His son, he added, has “raised everyone back up so that there would be justice, something real.”